Feb 11, 2010

Tentative agreement for health care workers

BURNABY—A tentative agreement covering more than 48,000 hospital and long-term care workers has been reached between the multi-union Facilities Bargaining Association and B.C.’s health employers.

The two-year agreement protects wages and extended health benefits, expands options for workers affected by restructuring and privatization, and provides for compensation increases for targeted job categories.

The agreement was reached against the backdrop of a government freeze on public sector compensation and just weeks before the tabling of a post-Olympic budget that is expected to result in a new round of health authority budget cuts.

FBA spokesperson Judy Darcy says the agreement provides members with the certainty and stability they need to weather another round of cuts and restructuring.

“Through creative and reasonable choices, we were able to make progress on our members’ key bargaining priorities,” says Darcy who is also the secretary-business manager of the Hospital Employees’ Union.

“And we did so while protecting wages and ensuring that extended health plan benefits remain intact and sustainable for members and their families.”

Darcy says patients and long-term care residents will benefit from the agreement because of a number of job security provisions that will help retain workers affected by contracting out and restructuring.

The agreement covers about 270 different jobs in every area of health care including nursing, health records, information technology, logistics and supply, diagnostic testing, pharmacy, trades and maintenance, dietary, housekeeping, payroll and more.

The Facilities Bargaining Association includes a number of unions including the Hospital Employees’ Union which represents more than 90 per cent of the workers covered by the agreement.

The BC Government and Service Employees’ Union and the International Union of Operating Engineers also represent a significant number of workers in the sector.

The FBA is recommending acceptance of the agreement to their members and will be scheduling ratification votes.

The current agreement expires on March 31, 2010.

COPE 491